Feb. 27, 2014
SURPRISE, Ariz. – Four Oklahoma State pitchers combined for the Cowboys’ first shutout of the season as coach Josh Holliday’s 11th-ranked club defeated Gonzaga, 2-0, Thursday at the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic.
Bryan Case and Gage Green drove in the OSU runs to help Tyler Nurdin earn his first win of the season as the Cowboys improved to 9-1, marking the second-straight year they have been victorious in nine of their first 10 games.
“It was a great, well-pitched game, and we played very good defense,” Holliday said. “The wind was blowing right in our face, the sun was setting just over the batter’s eye and our kids were really struggling to see the ball with the glare of the sun and the wind. It was not the ideal setting for offense, but we’ll take it. I’ll never be disappointed when a ball club goes on the road and wins in a unique environment like this.
“We did the necessary things to win. We made some key swings of the bat. We had other opportunities that didn’t get done, but we had just enough timely hitting to win a ballgame.”
OSU’s offense struggled early against Gonzaga starter Taylor Jones as the right-hander held the Cowboys hitless over the first four innings.
But Nurdin (1-1) was equally as stingy against the Bulldogs as the southpaw worked six scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and striking out five.
“He was much more poised, much more like the Tyler Nurdin we grew to expect last year and certainly the one we’re counting on this year,” Holliday said. “That’s a step in the right direction for him.”
Dustin Williams got OSU off the snide when he opened the fifth with a triple. Green then followed with an infield single, but the Cowboys couldn’t capitalize as Jones struck out Andrew Rosa and Case before getting out of the jam when Tim Arakawa grounded out.
OSU finally got on the scoreboard in the seventh. Once again, it was Williams leading off with a hit, this one a single, and three batters later, a clutch two-out double by Case put the Cowboys up, 1-0.
In the seventh, Vince Wheeland came out of the OSU bullpen and hurled 1 1/3 scoreless innings before yielding to Alex Hackerott. After Hackerott gave up a single to GU pinch hitter Nicholas Minteer, closer Brendan McCurry came on and got two groundouts to get out of the inning.
The Cowboys added an insurance run in the ninth when Green brought home Williams with a triple, and McCurry retired Gonzaga in order in the bottom of the inning to earn his fourth save of the season. The save was also the 12th of McCurry’s career, tying him with older brother, Randy, for fourth on OSU’s all-time saves list and leaving him just five shy of Jordy Mercer’s school record.
OSU returns to tourney action Friday when the Cowboys take on Manhattan at 5 p.m. (CST).